Category: No pairings.
Note: This is, I'd like to think, a look into what could have been, and
an exploration of the idea that even in the darkest of times, there's
joy to be found. Snuggles to suzu and Yume for beta and that kick in the
ass that I always seem to need.
Under a sky too pale to be called blue, they ran.
Sunlight filtered through the tree branches, casting dappled shadows on
the ground, a flashing brightness in their eyes, and still, they ran.
Over rocks, tangled roots and fallen, gnarled trunks, they darted and
jumped, their laughter high and full of childish delight. Wind rattled
the leaves above them and whipped their hair about their heads, but nothing
mattered to them, not in that one, solitary moment.
Eventually, they slowed, lungs burning for breath and chests heaving.
Two boys, two children, one dark haired, the other light, stopped and
grinned at each other. Too breathless for words, the light haired one
looked around with excited bright eyes, seeking a new game to play. His
eyes fell on a cluster of bushes and he jerked his head towards it. The
other boy followed his gaze and together they walked to it, arms slung
around each other's shoulders.
Green and red, green and blue, and then more green, the plants were full
of color, rich like the pictures in books. The first boy, the one with
long dark hair tangled from the mad dash through the trees, crouched down
and started picking through the bushes, plucking ripe berries from the
branches and popping them into his mouth. They were raspberries, red and
full, bursting with flavor. The other boy stood beside him, taking a berry
when handed one and looking this way and that before crushing them between
his teeth. This time, a small opening in the wall of rocks nearby caught
He nudged his playmate, nearly knocking him over in his enthusiasm and
pointed at the cave. The other stood up, stuffing a handful of the berries
into his pocket. Excited by the idea of exploring something as dark, as
mysterious, as potentially muddy as a cave, he trudged over the ground
with his friend and peered into the darkness. He wasn't afraid of the
The second boy, older and obviously the braver of the two, took a cautious
step inside, eyes straining to see though the blackness. Wind ruffled
his sandy hair, whistling past him and making the cave howl. The dark
haired one shivered, but he still wasn't afraid of the dark. He took a
step inside, mimicking his friend, craning his neck and opening his eyes
as wide as he could. He thought he saw something big inside the cave.
A rock to climb. He elbowed the other boy, who grunted at him, and then
looked back at the rock. Both boys broke into grins, a dull flash of white
in the dark.
The wind howled again, and the two crept closer to the rock, the darkness
and a little touch of fear making their steps slow but the journey fun.
Then, the ground rumbled, and the rock shook. They froze and crouched
down beside each other, their eyes as wide as saucers. The rock moved
again, and a great rumbling snore shook the walls around them. The rock
that wasn't a rock rolled over with a loud thump, and the two boys slowly
backed out of the cave, not really wanting to wake a bear from its afternoon
Once outside, they started to run again, their eyes stinging from the
sudden brightness. Finally, away from the sleeping bear, they burst into
laughter again, clapping each other on the back and declaring that they
weren't afraid, even if their laughs were a bit high and nervous.
They sat together on the trunk of a fallen tree, finishing the berries
from the dark haired boy's pocket. Again, the taller, sandy haired boy
was looking around, dark blue eyes taking in their surroundings while
the first boy watched, waiting, then looking around in imitation of his
friend. He glanced up at the sound of a distant rumble, looking back down
to see his friend watching him. Without a word, they stood, setting off
They squeezed between the trees and clambered over more rocks, walking
slowly now. The trees thinned, the light becoming brighter, and then the
trees fell away, spilling them into a flat clearing. The trickle of water
reached their ears, gradually growing louder as they drew near, and then
they stood on the banks of a small river. They staggered down the small,
grassy hill, down to the rocks at its edge.
Looking along the length of it, the sandy haired boy squinted, trying
to see a way across. Further upstream, one of the many tree trunks had
fallen across the river, its branches beaten down on one side to form
a type of bridge. The dark haired boy led the way, dropping to his hands
and knees on the trunk and edging his way carefully across. The second
boy prodded him in the rear, urging him to hurry up, and then they were
both on the other side, standing up and glancing around again. Together,
they walked over the grass, out of the riverbed and stopped again, looking
for the right direction to head in. They were almost there.
A stomach gurgled, and the dark haired boy grinned sheepishly. A few berries
were hardly enough for a young boy. The other boy shook his head ruefully,
a strangely adult gesture, and motioned for them to keep going. The first
shrugged and trudged on. Another rumble sounded, further away from them
Minutes from the river, the rocks rose up around them, forming great mountains
that towered above their heads. The sandy haired boy led the way between
them, turning at the right moment to show the shorter boy the narrow passage
carved into the side of the mountain. They squeezed through, shoulders
bumping the rock walls around them. The dark haired boy grinned up at
his friend when the other turned 'round to glance at him.
The passage ended, and they stood facing a steep cliff face. The younger
boy craned his neck back, looking up and up until he saw the pale sky.
He looked back to his friend, disbelief plainly etched onto his face.
They couldn't climb that. His friend winked.
The sandy haired boy, grinning brightly, grabbed the other's hand and
dragged him further ahead, away from the passage they had exited and until
they were standing flush beside the rocks. In front of them, a small dirt
path, hidden from direct view by rocks and bushes, zigzagged up the side
of the mountain. The dark haired boy's mouth formed a small ‘oh' of surprise,
and then he too was grinning. His friend was a smart one. The older boy
nodded in agreement, and then set one foot to the path, turning to the
side and motioning for the smaller boy to go first. Just in case.
They trooped up the cliff, one after the other, glancing down from time
to time. It was a long drop, but the dark haired boy wasn't afraid of
heights, just like he wasn't afraid of the dark. As long as he was with
his friend, he wasn't afraid of anything. Besides, they were almost there.
Suddenly, the path fell away and the dark haired boy stood at the edge
of the cliff, staring down at scraggly trees and rocks that looked awfully
pointy. He looked back to the sandy haired boy, who laid a hand on his
shoulder and pointed ahead. It was just a spot where the rocks had worn
away, all he had to do was jump a little, just over the gap, and he'd
be on the path again. He could do it.
Nodding, the younger boy wiped his palms on his shorts. He looked at the
gap, sizing it up and taking a deep breath. Right, he could do it. The
break wasn't that big. He backed up, glancing one last time at his friend,
who smiled at him and looked ahead to the gap. He was sure he could do
it, they wouldn't be here if he thought differently.
The dark haired boy took off at a run, waiting until the last moment to
push off from the ground and leap across the gap. He felt the wind lift
his hair, his clothes, and then he was falling. He landed with a jarring
thud on the other side, knees bent and palms flat on the ground. He had
done it. With a triumphant shout, he turned back to his friend and they
grinned at each other. The younger one planted his hands on his hips,
delighted. He glanced around, looked back at the gap and snorted. It wasn't
such a big break at all.
The sandy haired boy laughed, getting the other's attention. When he did,
he motioned for the dark haired boy to move back, out of the way. He still
needed to jump across. Oh. Right. The younger boy shrugged sheepishly
and stepped back. His friend started running, jumped and landed easily
beside him, kicking up clouds of dust. He made it look so easy. They started
off again, plodding up the path. Only a few minutes longer, and they reached
the top of the mountain. They were there.
The younger boy turned around in a circle, eyes wide. He could see forever
from where he stood. The mountains, the trees, the river, he could see
it all. He decided that of everything he had seen, he liked this the best.
He liked standing tall.
The sandy haired boy laughed at him. This would be the only time he stood
tall, he was a short little squirt. The dark haired boy rolled his eyes.
He wouldn't always be this little, and one day, he'd be taller than anyone.
The sandy haired boy laughed again, blue eyes crinkling at the corners.
He believed him.
Turning away from his friend, the sandy haired boy walked to the other
side of the mountain, crouching down and digging through a bunch of bushes.
A cloud moved over the sun and the sky darkened, another rumble sounding
through the air, closer than it should have been. The dark haired boy
looked back at his friend, his smile fading. The sandy haired boy frowned,
shoving the bushes aside faster now. The rumble came again, closer. The
sky, dark and cold, split and the rain began to beat down.
The illusion wavered, cracked and then shattered around them.
The sandy haired boy jumped up from the pile of rubble, two bundles wrapped
in newspaper clutched to his chest. He ran back over to his friend, handing
him one. This was important, don't lose it. The younger boy nodded. He
wouldn't. Then they climbed over the side of the old building again, clinging
to the rusted fire escape. They heard the rumble of Alliance Army's patrol,
and they were afraid.
Down the shaky steps they pounded, not hesitating before the gap where
it had rusted away before leaping across, the newspaper bundles held tightly
in their arms. The world grew darker and colder still, the rain soaking
through their dirty clothes and hair. The dark haired boy grabbed the
rail, whipping around the corners as quickly as he could, the other boy
following close behind him.
They reached the end of the fire escape, slid down over the heap of garbage
at the bottom and landed in the alley. The dark haired boy paused, then
ran ahead, glancing back to make certain his friend was still behind him
before he ducked into the narrow passage, feet slapping against the rough
ground as he dodged the debris strewn haphazardly about.
They exploded from between the buildings, panting for breath and looking
wildly about. It looked safe and clear. The dark haired boy swiped the
back of his hand across his face. The rain felt dirty. With a nod from
the sandy haired boy, he darted across the street and over the hard concrete
flooring of a ruined factory. Breathless, they reached the old sewer duct
and slid down the concave side, down to where garbage and sludge clogged
the center. The dark haired boy glanced around quickly, searching for
the old board that formed a bridge across it. The sandy haired boy spotted
it first, shoving the younger boy towards it.
On the other side, they looked about again, searching for any sign of
the Alliance. When none was found, they ran over to the pile of rock and
rubble that led out of the open sewer duct. Still clasping their bundles
tight, they scrambled up over it and across the rest of the ruin.
Stopping short at the metal link fence, the sandy haired boy shoved his
dripping hair out of his eyes and searched for the break. Finding it,
and then squeezing through, the two broke out into a run again, darting
between more piles of rubble, leaning fences and rotting posts, jumping
over those that had given in and fallen across the path. The rain stung.
They reached the streets again, careening to a halt next to a vendor's
stand. A great bear of a man huffed and cursed, quickly packing away the
brightly colored packages, shining green, red and blue in the flickering
light. He turned, saw the two boys and cursed again, growling. The sandy
haired boy, grinning cheekily, saluted and grabbed his friend, taking
off at a run again. He looked at the other boy, his blue eyes unnaturally
Under a sky that was never blue, they ran.
"...we always ran," the dark haired boy, no longer a child, finished.
His face was turned up to the sky, eyes closed as he spoke. The rain,
clean and gentle, splashed against his skin and dampened the long braid
trailing down his back.
Beside him, seated on a rock, elbows on his knees, was another boy, with
hair more golden than sandy and blue eyes the color of the Caribbean.
He waited, not wanting to move and break the spell of melancholy calm
that his companion's story had woven around them. The forest they sat
in was quiet except for the sound of the rain on the leaves.
The longhaired boy took a deep breath, shaking himself from his reverie
and turning to look at the boy next to him. The blond, feeling the movement,
turned his head to the side, meeting his gaze with a ghost of a smile
on his lips. Without a word between them, they stood, setting off through
the trees. Bumping the other boy's shoulder with his, the blond's smile
grew. With a ringing laugh, the boy with dancing cobalt eyes, nearly indigo
in the light, threw his arm around the blond boy's shoulders.
Above the trees, far away from the two, smoke wafted slowly through the
air, gradually seeping up from the ground in great, black clouds. Raindrops
fell through the smoke, tattering the edges, to strike the ground below
where booted feet pounded on wet asphalt. Floating on the air, muffled
and distant, was the noise of a useless siren, sounded too late.
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